Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Thought of All the Stupid Things I've Done

What the hell happened to the Coldplay of Yellow and Trouble? Or even In My Place? In his increasingly desperate pleas to be the new Bono (or even Michael Stipe), Chris Martin started putting political messages on his fingers, arms, whatever. Ok, fine. Then he married an annoying, snobby celebrity who really didn't deserve her Oscar. Sure, that's to be expected. Then he had a kid and named it after a fruit. Hey, I like apples, even computer and record apples despite their disagreements. But to subject a child to such punishment is disappointing to say the least. Then, they release a by-the-numbers third album that had some decent tunes (Speed of Sound) and one horrific piece of garbage (Fix You). Now, they're releasing their next single as a ringtone during CSI:NY. YIKES! It doesn't happen much, but when the BS starts outweighing the quality of the music, it's not even worth the iPod space anymore (warning: Flaming Lips, you're dangerously close to meeting a similar fate). With the exceptions of the decent tunes already mentioned, Coldplay is dead to me.

Rant over.

I Break the Silence That Keeps It All In

Guster satisfies ambitions. Guster gives more details about the new album. Guster named its new album Ganging Up On the Sun. Guster keeps me happy. Me gusta Guster.

Monday, November 21, 2005

We'd Love To Take You Home, Each and Every One

Every now and then, you need to listen to something that truly reminds you of listening to old radio on your headphones back when you were growing up. It's like comfort food. Not Lame recently turned me on to Fred. Think harmonies, piano, and keyboards. Not surprisingly (once you listen), Chris Manning, formerly of Jellyfish and Roger Manning's brother, produced their CD Sound Awake. The comparisons to Jellyfish are worthy, probably the most worthy I've heard in years. Fred also reminds me of Mike Viola / Candybutchers, which isn't surprising because they remind me of Jellyfish. And don't be afraid to say it sounds groovy. I think that's an appropriate description for it. It feels like a guilty pleasure, but I don't think it is. I don't feel guilty anyway. I'm really digging it and think you might too. They truly fit the Too Poppy mold. Enjoy plenty of streams, etc.:

Official site
Not Lame site
CD Baby site
Myspace site

And buy it from Not Lame. They deserve some credit for this. They sent me a special email telling me about Fred because I've bought Jellyfish from them before. You gotta love that kind of personal attention (as opposed to Amazon's cool but often misguided recommendations feature).

Sony BMG Sued Under Anti-Spyware Laws

Ah, sweet justice. Sony BMG is being sued for their "anti-piracy" software quietly loaded onto unsuspecting user's computers.

Strange Fascination, Fascinating Me

David Bowie as Nikola Tesla? Brilliant! Keep track of developments with IMDB.

You Might Think It's Foolish

Why do bands think it's ok to continue and/or reunite without some of the members who were really the heart and soul in the band's original incarnation?! Really, how many bands have been successful at this? I suppose Van Halen was moderately successful, but they have since felt the same fate many bands feel when they do something stupid like this. At least Alex Chilton is involved in the new Posies-ish Big Star. Regardless of your opinion of Todd Rundgren, to have him essentially replace Ric Ocasek and Ben Orr in a newly reformed Cars just reeks of a bad idea. Get Ric to participate, or just don't do it. Damn, greed and mis-Fortune (ha ha) have already ruined the legacy of INXS. Let's not spoil the Cars too.

Friday, November 18, 2005

So Go On If This Will Make You Happier

Guster is crazy. Guster is releasing a new single five months before the album. Guster sent me a special message about this. Guster would like me to share this message with you. Me gusta Guster.

Okay, so this will be really quick. We have a release date for "Manifest Destiny / Sorority Tears" -- the first nugget of music we're throwing your way from all the recording we've done this year.
While the album won't be out until April, you'll be able to download this little song-and-a-half from the iTunes Music Store and other major digital media sites on Nov 29th. I suppose that with all the computer savvy Gustertrons out there, combined with the low low price of 99 cents for the download, combined with one more naggy emailer dropping on the 29th of the month, we are aiming to shake up the iTunes world with the kind of five-months-before-the-album response that will earn us our own collector's item Guster iPods with a pastel color for each member of the band.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bonji Infects Hisself

So I decided to take one for the team and buy the new My Morning Jacket - Z. As always, I'm a little underwhelmed by their studio work (saw them live opening for GBV and that spoiled me). Now I got this burns when I pee or when I try to play the disc through my default audio playa. Thanks Sony! Right after I get myself to the clinic, I'm callin' your mama...and your boyfriend...and your sister.

And while I'm all negative now, lemme tell you about Brian Wilson's SMiLE. I've never been a Beach Boys fan, but all the hype and all the cool press on SMiLE piqued my interest...especially when I read things like "Smile-like psychedelia" in other album's reviews. It took me close to six months just to get the dang disc out of the package (how about a thumb slot next time). Uggh...I'm concerned I missed something, and I will really give it a few more chances, but at no time while listening to the album did I find anything worth listening to more than three times. The Bonji is usually down with drug-induced artistic achievements, especially when they've been given the grace of a 38 year sobering up. But here, right now, color me deeply disappointed.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Why Don't You Roll It Out, Carry It Away?

Ambulance Driver by Superdrag just popped up on the ol' iPod (no, really, it's old by today's standards - it doesn't even have a color screen, yikes - so embarrassing!) and what a hell of a song. They are currently "on hiatus," so it might be a good time to catch up on stuff you probably never even bothered to listen to. They have a ton of releases out there. I first was turned on to them with their perfect pop song Sucked Out. I think every decent pop band has a perfect pop song in them (e.g. Tearaways' Jessica Something, Lightning Seeds' Pure) and that was indeed theirs. But it didn't end there for them. In the Valley of Dying Stars is the most recent thing I have from them and I still love the hell out of it when I hear it. A great album and highly recommended. Superdrag truly deserves a spot in the power pop canon.

Check out some downloads by Superdrag and their relations here.

iPod Mania: Internet iTunes Registry

iPod Mania: Internet iTunes Registry

This is very cool. I tried to upload my XML file earlier today. Didn't work the first time and the second time took too long. I look forward to adding my mix to the, uh, mix.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Who Am I Supposed to Be?

Hit the ol' bookstore last night to gulp a frappacino and browse the way overpriced CDs and noticed the new Q magazine has a free (whatever: the mag costs 8 or 9 bucks) CD that includes lots of covers of John Lennon tunes. It's been 25 years since he was killed, you see, so we must celebrate. Everybody celebrates deathdays, right? Joseph Arthur does a cover of Look At Me. Get it while you can.

MP3: Joseph Arthur - Look at Me (John Lennon cover) (via Copy, Right?)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Not too long ago, it was discovered that Sony was infecting computers with copy protection technology called XCP. Some of its CDs include this software that hides itself once loaded onto your computer. It's a crap move and it's created quite a backlash. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published an incomplete list of these dangerous CDs. Use them carefully. Don't buy them. Boycott Sony. Buy a Mac. Whatever. As consumers, we should have the right to know exactly what we're buying, and we should have a right to listen to our music without infecting our computers. This kind of tactic will inevitably have the adverse effect -- why wouldn't music lovers track down electronic versions (legal or even illegal) to avoid this? Let's just hope other companies don't try a similar bone-headed move.

UPDATE: Who didn't see this coming?

UPDATE 2: This is getting ridiculous: Macs are allegedly not safe either.

UPDATE 3: Sony temporarily suspends its intrusive abuse of its customers. I'm sure their R&D department is busy at work on how to alienate more music customers.

UPDATE CUATRO: Boing Boing has a great timeline and continues to publish new updates.
UPDATE CINCO: Jeez - Thanks a lot, Sony

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Amir Baltezar

One of the things I love about the internet is the ability to find music I never would otherwise. This week I found it on one of my favorite blogs Catbirdseat. In this month's mix they placed Sub-Division's Express at number one. Which is exactly where it should be.

Sub-Division is from Mexico City but Amir Baltezar's vocals sound like she could be from Japan or Scandanavia. Comparison to early Bjork or Jesus and the Mary Chain are inevitable.

The stand out in the 3-song EP is Express. You can stream The Primos EP here. The feel of it really reminds me of the first time I heard Calla when they opened for Interpol. Dirty, distorted, beautiful. They really deserve their own post.

Like everyone else they are now on myspace.

So Keep On Playing Those Mind Games Together

John Lennon breaks the Beatle bias against digital distribution by releasing his new compilation digitally this week and the rest of his catalog in December. Of course, thanks to Apple v. Apple, he won't be popping up on iTunes any time soon.

Related: a new and unfortunate Hollywood flick about the murder of Lennon will feature, naturally, L.Lo.

Another One Bites the Dust

Say goodbye to file-swapping Grokster. Hello, iTunes.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

You Know My Name, Look Up My Number

Ah, new technology. The porn industry embraces it first, the Beatles last. According to this article, EMI, who owns the masters, but not the rights to the Beatles music, has been pressuring Apple Corps to embrace the digital music age.

But Apple Computer is yet again in a trademark infringement lawsuit with Apple Corp. Seems the last time they were in court, Apple Corp agreed that Apple Computer could use the name "Apple" as long as they didn't make music. The reported settlement Apple Computer paid was 30 million. When the Macintosh came out, it was capable of producing sounds and music. In typical Apple Computer rebelious fashion, one of the system alert sounds was named "Sosumi" (So Sue Me).

Now that Apple Computer is selling music, Apple Corps believes they are violating their agreement. I'd say that the case was delaying the Beatles appearance on iTunes, but I'm not sure. If you look back in history, they were always the last to jump on the technology bandwagon. Stereo. 8-Track. Cassette. CD's.

As a Beatles fanatic, I already own every song commercially released, as well as quite a few more. So I don't need to download their music. I'm just patiently waiting for them to upgrade the current CD's which were released in the 80's. Listen to their latest release, 1, and you can hear the incredible difference in quality. The bass is incredible (Come Together) and the quality is pristine.

C'mon Apple (Corps), get with the times and get on iTunes so that your fans - old and new - can get the Beatles music. Even the friggin' Rolling Stones are on iTunes.

Breakfast Is On The Kitchen Counter

The Odds - Neopolitan
Retro Time - I was listening to an album by a somewhat obscure but awesome early-90's band, The Odds, called Neopolitan.

It has probably been about 3 years since I've listened to this gem. What a great album and what great memories it brings back. Stand-out tracks include Eternal Ecstasy, Wendy Under The Stars, Truth or Dare, Trees, Domesticated Blind and Big White Wall. Hey, I told you it was a good album.

Follow-up albums didn't quite capture the magic in my opinion, but Bedbugs came pretty close. Check 'em out. Unfortunately they're not available in iTunes.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Chad VanGaalen

Chad VanGaalen is finally starting to get some more respect. I wish I could remember which blog first introduced me to him in December of '04 because they deserve some major kudos. For those of you who have yet to be introduced CVG is a recent addition to the SubPop label. They have just rereleased his incredible album Infiniheart. It was first released on Canada's Flemish Eye label. He's been compared to Beck, the Flaming Lips, Neil Young, and Modest Mouse. None of these comparisons seemed quite as good as Bonji's suggestion that it sounded like Neutral Milk Hotel. Listen to CVG's Clinically Dead and to NMH's Holland 1945. Both brilliant. He isn't Jeff Mangum yet but I can't wait to see what comes next.

If you are going to buy anything from SubPop why don't you pick up CVG as well. It is well worth your expense. Oh Canada you really are where the music is lately. I just need more Godspeed You Black Emperor.

One Last Time These Words From Me

Guster has some more news. Guster is expecting to release its new album in April. Guster has new t-shirts. Guster is my co-pilot is one of them. Guster makes me smile. Guster is still not coming to Des Moines. Me gusta Guster.

No Love or Pill Could Keep Her Cool

Yoko has apologized for living off her late husband's legacy for all these years. Well, not quite, but supposedly she didn't mean what she said about Paul.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Home, Don't It Seem So Far Away?

Neil Diamond will forever remind me of my childhood. If it wasn't Simon & Garfunkel playing on the family van's eight-track, then it was likely Mr. Diamond. If it wasn't my dad blaring Bob Seger, Wings, or the Eagles on the home stereo, then it was likely Mr. Diamond. I can thank my mom for that.

So hearing his voice singing on any tune always has an oddly calming effect on me and pushes me to sentimental areas I don't always visit. With that said, it's refreshing to hear him on his new CD pushing past his own schmaltzy comfort zone and revisiting the more raw, singer-songwriter he was in his early days. Not unlike Paul McCartney's surprising use of Radiohead/Beck producer Nigel Godrich on his most recent, Mr. Diamond's latest, 12 Songs, is produced by Rick Rubin. Yep, the same Rick Rubin who has produced everybody from Slayer to Tom Petty, System of a Down to Johnny Cash. Quite a repertoire.

I challenge you to push past your own comfort zone and chill out to some Mr. Diamond on a cool November day.

On a side note, he's Mr. Diamond to me because he seems like a friend of my parents' or something.

STREAM: Neil Diamond - 12 Songs (via MySpace)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Our Shadows Will Remain

The first and possibly only complete cd I ever downloaded and burned from the old cool Napster was Joseph Arthur's Come to Where I'm From. It took some time but I've since rectified it by purchasing this and his other albums.

He's come a long way since then and his latest album Our Shadows Will Remain created quite a buzz. Rolling Stone Critic Chris Rubin has called it the best album of 2004 (Nod to the Faint's Joel Peterson and Broken Spindles in at 8). USA Today says. "Shades of David Bowie, that godfather of so many adventurous modern rock acts, keep popping up on this latest effort from critical and cult favorite Arthur. Folding funk, punk and pop textures into arrangements that are at once raw and gracefully atmospheric, the singer/songwriter glides from lithe, pulsating numbers such as ‘Wasted' to the rougher, more muscular ‘Devil's Broom.'"

Even Dan the Automator has gotten on the Arthor bandwagon remixing his song Even Tho. For those who do like remixes (I do) you can find it on the 14th Floor Label.

For those new to JA check out some of my favorites. Chemicals, Honey and Moon, Redemption's Son, and In the Sun. Unfortunately Come to Where I'm From isn't offered in iTunes but you can hear samples on Amazon. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tune It All Out and Turn It Up Too Loud

Time to catch up with dada (the band). The last we heard from them was their less-than-great 2004 reunited (and it should have felt so good) CD, How to Be Found. No, I'm not here to announce a new CD. Rather, it's an opportunity to buy dada merchandise ON SALE! Don't ever say this blog doesn't serve a public purpose.

If the guys ever bring their live show out of California again, I highly recommend it. I've seen them twice in two very different venues (Chicago and Des Moines) and both times they exceeded my expectations. The drummer is excellent.

And if you haven't listened to their debut Puzzle in a while, I'd recommend doing that too. If you don't have it, the sale (!!!) is a good opportunity to buy the reissue at a reduced price (keep in mind only their self-titled and underappreciated 1998 release is available on iTunes and not on the dada site -- iTunes also has a few choice cuts from Puzzle). Get past the gimmicky Dizz Knee Land (although "I just flipped off President George" is likely a crowd favorite these days) and spend time with greats like Dim, Moon, Posters, Dorina -- really, the whole damn album.

Finally, check out dada-offshoot Butterfly Jones and Joie Calio's solo release, which are both excellent and are both better than How to Be Found (and both on sale too).